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Building a culture of Innovation starting with the CEOs and the board

Allianz Trade Logo

This is the story of how the CEOs of Allianz Trade showing leadership, managed to inject innovation in the culture by changing behaviors.

The need to to build an Innovation culture for the CEOs

Allianz Trade (formerly Euler Hermes) is an international insurance company that offers a range of services, including trade credit insurance, debt collection, surety bonds and guarantees, business fraud insurance, and political risk protection.

It monitors the financial health of over 80 million companies worldwide and is present in more than 50 countries with more than 5,000 employees. The company has a €3 billion turnover and insures global business transactions representing €930 billion in exposure.

Originally founded in 1883, the company has grown and expanded through acquisitions over the past 20 years. Centralization was the key objective during this period. The company focused its efforts on rationalizing processes, standardizing operations, centralizing IT, and streamlining activities.

However, the company's focus on exploiting the current business model left no room for innovation. The new CEO took action to shift the company towards a more distributed model and encourage innovation. European markets led this initiative and took measures to bring innovation into their entity.

The board members of the European markets recognized the need to work on the company culture, and Allianz Trade asked Forward Partners to support them in this initiative and help the CEO build a culture of innovation in the company.

Onboarding the CEOs toward innovation

To onboard CEOs and their teams in innovation across different countries, we initiated a program that started with the CEO and cascaded down to the teams.

We began the program with an engaging workshop for the board members and CEOs of the relevant markets. After presenting various examples and case studies of innovation and digital culture, a passionate discussion ensued on how to improve their company culture.

Using the structure of innovation games, we identified the main blockers in the organization and brainstormed ways to address them. The CEO proposed ten different ideas to drive cultural change.

Over the next three months, we tested these ideas with the CEOs and their teams. After three months of testing and refining, it was time to assess the progress made and measure the impact.

It turned out that some ideas worked really well, while others did not.

The result were different than expected

Out of the 10 proposed ideas, only 2 had significant impact while the remaining 8 did not. As a result, it was decided to focus on implementing the two effective ideas.

One of those ideas aimed at increasing customer centricity among top management. The idea was simple: top management would listen in on customer calls and propose improvements and actions to help the customer after each call. The program was well received, with over 80% of participants proposing the idea to help the customer.

This approach is powerful. We refocused on our customers and tested a lot of different ideas.” - Milo Bogaerts CEO UK, Alliance Trade

In terms of cultural impact, the CEO and the board learned the power of experimentation and iteration. They discovered that they could quickly test and kill ideas.

Now, this approach is being replicated in different markets, leading to multiple new projects and changes in the organization.


Ready to embrace a culture of innovation? Contact us at


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